Saturday, August 1

crash course (a little light reading for the weekend)

If there is one thing Adam and I do well, it's research.  We both tend to get a little obsessive when it comes to finding out as much as we can about the latest idea, purchase, or point of focus.  

For example... if you follow me on Pinterest, you can probably guess what I'm obsessing over at any time.
This week it's a combination of English Mastiff puppies, Disney, and home organization.. with a little landscaping thrown in.

When we decided to build (or more specifically, work with a home builder) I knew we'd be doing some serious research.  I gravitate more towards blogs and online forums, whereas Adam is a big believer in Youtube.  He also does quite a bit of searching online, and I still believe in the function of good old paper.  

I thought it couldn't hurt to compile some of the most helpful resources we found to prepare us for our build and the process.
  • Choose a Realtor you trust.  If you plan on buying or building, working with a Realtor is a key starting point.  They can help you determine how to get the most bang for your buck and will be your advocate all through the process.  I drive our Realtor crazy with emails and texts, but it's better to drive her crazy than directly bothering our builder.  She makes sure every conversation is documented, and works with my serious Type A when it comes to our upgrade spreadsheet and regular questions about timeline and building process. And although we found our neighborhood without her, it was just because we were too impatient to give her a chance to help us shop. She did sell our house in 25 days though.. so yeah, she's pretty awesome.

  • Look at a LOT of houses. Take advantage of Christmas Home Tours, Realtor Open Houses, and really look at what's on the market.  I used, Trulia, and Zillow pretty frequently. is my favorite because of their app.  It was easy to see what houses were listing for when we were driving around in different neighborhoods.  I also have an email setup with searches, where I am notified of new listings that fit my criteria.  It made it easy to share pictures and listings with features we liked.  Looking at houses also gave us an idea of what we could get for our money -  which made it easier to spot an awesome deal.
One of the launch screens for -  the map feature is great if you're looking for a specific area.
I still love browsing this site to see new listings and houses in the area, though now it's more for decorating ideas.
  • Use resources available to the public - city records, county property tax assessments, etc.  I'm a bit of a snoop and sleuth, so I actually figured out who built a few houses we liked by searching the property address in the city records -  this pulled up zoning hearings, notes from code approvals, and different builders or developers over properties we liked.  When looking at lots to build on, I relied heavily on county tax records to see the lay of the land, and what all surrounded different neighborhoods we were considering.  If you're thinking about building in Alabama, specifically Lee County -  check it out here.

Just a sample of a popular neighborhood in Auburn.  You can see the lot layouts, sizes, where they border, and even find out more about potential neighbors (if you're that nosy.)  You can simply search by street address and navigate the site from there.
  • For planning the build, I found two books that were really helpful.  Both can be pretty pricey if bought new, but I found them on Amazon in good used condition for less than $30 each.
    Make your house do the housework by Don Aslett and Build it right by Myron Ferguson
    Both of these books had their weaknesses - some of it was just too technical for what we are doing (going through a builder) but I imagine they would be just right if you were your own builder/contractor.  In the strengths though - both had some great ideas and really made me think about how we'd be LIVING in the house, and not just how pretty the big windows or fancy cabinets might be.  We had already decided on our floor plan by the time I read these, but thankfully we had been looking for functional floor plans from the start.  They were also good intros into common construction terminology, as well as what to expect from a build.

  • When we were planning our Disney Honeymoon, I found so much helpful information on the Disboards -  a forum for other Disney-obsessed folks that would get super detailed.  I lucked out and found a forum for Home builders, decorators, buyers, appliance reviewers -  the gamut.  It was formerly known as GardenWeb but recently merged with Houzz.  I love the forums and follow a few topics daily.  I haven't used much else on the site, as I don't find Houzz as intuitive as Pinterest or something similar. To find the forums, just click on the Advice link at the top of the page and choose Home Forums.

  • Adam and I both wanted to learn more about the process of building a house.. what the order of the stages were, what to expect at each stage, and things to look out for.  We watch a LOT of Youtube on the regular (from video games to science to puppy videos) and immediately went there looking for a good review of the building process.  Enter Roman Lewczuk.  He's a builder from the northeast and has a series of 58 videos covering the stages of a build.  Be ready for a strong drum intro and a heavy dose of "Bro" if you decide to watch his videos.  It's a little cheesy, but we've learned a ton and I always enjoy watching the videos of where we are in our build process, just to compare. 

I hope you find some of these helpful, or at least enjoy clicking around.  It's been a good distraction for those days (or weeks for a while there) when there was no progress at the lot.  

Things are moving along now though, and I'm ready to start daydreaming about decorating our new house and pulling all the finishes we've chosen together.

No comments: